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On this episode of the Freedom Writers Podcast, Erin Gruwell sits down with Freedom Writer Sue Ellen Alpizar to discuss her powerful story of resilience and healing. Sue Ellen shares the challenges of growing up in a dysfunctional household, the impact of losing her brother, and her decision to break the cycle of silence surrounding mental health.T…
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On this episode of the Freedom Writers Podcast, Erin Gruwell sits down with Freedom Writer Shanate Jones. They discuss the traumatic experience of Shanate's youth, like having her childhood home invaded by police, the challenges she faced with disrespectful authority figures, and overcoming depression. Shanate also discusses her time in the militar…
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On this episode of the Freedom Writers Podcast, join Erin Gruwell as she speaks with original Freedom Writer Latilla Cain, who delves into her life's mission of championing for others. Through heartfelt stories, Latilla illustrates the importance of support, love, and understanding in forging paths to success and building stronger communities.…
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On this episode of the Freedom Writers Podcast, join Erin Gruwell and original Freedom Writer Carlos Barragan as they delve into Carlos' remarkable journey from the challenging streets of Long Beach to a life of purpose and success. In a candid conversation, Carlos opens up about his past as a graffiti artist known as 'Idol,' his struggle with fami…
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In this episode, Erin Gruwell is joined by original Freedom Writer Melvin Logan to unfold a tale of change and growth. Discover how a single classroom note sparked a revolution in education, and follow Melvin's path from a troubled youth on the gang-riddled streets of 1990s Long Beach to a catalyst for change in classrooms across the globe. Now, as…
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On this episode of the Freedom Writers Podcast, Erin Gruwell and original Freedom Writer Mauricio Antonio "Tony" Becerra explore themes of ambition, identity, and hope. Tony shares his powerful story, starting with the significance of his name and the personal choice to adopt "Tony" as a means to avoid ridicule and mispronunciation by teachers. Thr…
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Journey through a vivid tapestry of resilience and relentless spirit with Narada Comans on this episode of the Freedom Writers Podcast. From a tumultuous neighborhood of Pittsburgh to the chaotic streets of Los Angeles during the infamous riots, Narada's childhood was a battlefield, punctuated by domestic violence, homelessness, and racial tension.…
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In this week's episode of the Freedom Writers Podcast, Erin Gruwell is joined by Dr. Robert Alsop, President of Waldorf University. Dr. Alsop and Waldorf’s commitment to fostering an environment where students feel seen, heard, and encouraged is truly inspiring, and we hope this episode leaves you feeling enlightened and empowered to make a differe…
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On this week's episode, Erin Gruwell speaks with Jayden Braddock, a student author who shares his journey of navigating an autism diagnosis and finding his voice through writing. Joining them is Jayden's mother, Dr. Freda Braddock, an educator who advocates for inclusive classrooms. Dr. Braddock offers advice to parents seeking accommodations for n…
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On this week's episode, Erin Gruwell is joined by Jasmine Matthews, a disability advocate and student author from Dear Freedom Writer. Jasmine discusses her journey as a sight-impaired individual and the importance of redefining the language used to describe disabilities. They are also joined by Nare Garibyan, an esteemed author and educator who ha…
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In this week’s powerful episode of the Freedom Writers Podcast, host Erin Gruwell is joined by four dynamic individuals who are making a difference as activists and educators. Tara Bordeaux, Dean Abraham, Jasmine Nelson, and Aaron Bos-Lun share their personal experiences and insights, discussing topics like representation, identity, and the challen…
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On this week's episode, Erin Gruwell is joined by original Freedom Writers, Melvin Logan and Carlos Barragan. Both Carlos and Melvin are inspiring and loving fathers who share what it was like growing up in Long Beach surrounded by poverty, racism, and gang violence. They discuss their survival, how they turned their pain into purpose, and breaking…
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On this week's episode, Erin Gruwell is joined by Tony Award-winning actor John Benjamin Hickey – who plays Brian Gilford (one of the rival educators) in the film “Freedom Writers.” John shares his insights on the transformative power of storytelling, how his roles have influenced his outlook on life, and the lessons he’s learned along the way from…
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On this week's episode of the Freedom Writers Podcast, Erin Gruwell is joined by Trudie Strobel, a Holocaust survivor whose astonishing path took her from a childhood of hardship in Ukraine to a life of strength and creativity in the United States. Together with Jody Savin, an acclaimed filmmaker and Trudie's biographer, they explore the impact of …
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In this powerful episode of the Freedom Writers Podcast, we are honored to share the story of Loung Ung, a Cambodian-American human rights activist and author. Loung takes us on an emotional journey through her harrowing experiences as a child under the brutal Khmer Rouge regime in Cambodia, recounting the unimaginable adversity she faced and the r…
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On this week's episode, Erin Gruwell is joined by Rwandan genocide survivor and activist, Dydine Umunyana-Anderson. Dydine shares her harrowing journey of survival during the Genocide against the Tutsi in Rwanda, her path to healing, and her unwavering dedication to fostering understanding, empathy, and change. Dydine's story is remarkable, and we …
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On this week's show, Erin Gruwell speaks with three incredible guests: acclaimed actor Alex Feldman, Ukrainian playwright Uliana Klimchuk, and Emmy-nominated writer and producer, Laura Cahill. They discuss the ongoing crisis in Ukraine, and how Young Playwrights Ukraine aims to give refugees fleeing the Russian invasion of Ukraine a voice through t…
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On this week's episode, we hear from four members of our Freedom Writer Family as they speak about their female heroes. First, Freedom Writer Norma Bravo-Lemler celebrates the mother of naturopathic medicine, Dr. Louisa Lust. Then, Freedom Writer Teacher Meghan Abruzzo reflects on mental health advocate and educator Nichole Sachs. Next, Freedom Wri…
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On this week's episode of the Freedom Writers Podcast, join Erin Gruwell and four members of our Freedom Writer Family as they share some inspiring stories of African-American heroism in celebration of Black History Month. Freedom Writer Narada Comans honors the late Congressman John Lewis, Freedom Writer Teacher Lex Morgan shares the story of Ruby…
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In this week's episode, Erin Gruwell speaks with Katya Yarotskaya, a passionate activist and advocate for Ukraine from Russia. They discuss Katya’s work bridging the digital divide for students affected by the war in Ukraine, how it feels to be a Russian during the current conflict, and the importance of supporting human rights no matter where you’…
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On this week's episode, Erin Gruwell speaks with Edie Mermelstein, an attorney and Holocaust educator. They discuss the recent and troubling rise in antisemitism on social media, Edie's family's incredible work with the Auschwitz Study Foundation, and the importance of keeping stories from the Holocaust alive. This episode is sadly more relevant th…
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On this week's episode, join Erin Gruwell as she speaks with Nyaz Burhan, a Kurdish student author from our new book, Dear Freedom Writer, and his amazing Freedom Writer Teacher, Michael Wegmann, who hails from Germany. They discuss Nyaz's harrowing journey as a Kurdish refugee, and how the power of education has helped him to heal, find his voice,…
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On today's episode, Erin interviews Samuel DePace, a celebrated student author from the new book, Dear Freedom Writer. Samuel, or “Sam” as Erin affectionately refers to him is a trans man. Sam candidly discusses what it was like to grow up feeling out of place in his own body, and how he ultimately found the strength to live his truth. Sam's courag…
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On this week's episode, Erin Gruwell is joined by two Ukrainians currently living in the United States. Our first guest, Lenny Shtyenberg, is one of the co-founders of UkraineNeedsYou.org - an impressive mental health care non-profit that provides services to those affected by the conflict. Lenny makes a passionate plea about what you can do to hel…
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On today's episode, Erin Gruwell speaks with dramaturge, author, and the new dean of the Claire Trevor School of the Arts at UC Irvine, Dr. Tiffany Lopez. They discuss Dr. Lopez's journey from being a first generation college student to becoming a leading voice in the fight for diversity and inclusion in higher education and the arts. This episode …
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On this week's episode, Erin Gruwell speaks with Krish Sharma, a British student author from our new book, Dear Freedom Writer, and his fabulous Freedom Writer Teacher, Sam Norwood. They discuss Krish's struggles with bullying, how important trust is for victims of bullying, and how parents, teachers, and students alike can protect students from bu…
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On this week's episode, Erin Gruwell speaks with Lucas Hammeken, a Greenlandic student author from the new book, Dear Freedom Writer, and his former headmaster, Torbjørn Ydegaard, a dedicated Freedom Writer Teacher who hails from Denmark. They discuss the linguistic challenges faced by students in Greenland, how Torbjørn and Lucas braved the COVID-…
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On this week's episode, Erin Gruwell speaks with New Zealand’s Gisborne District Councillor, Meredith Akuhata-Brown, and her daughter, Casey - two proud, Maori members of our Freedom Writer Family. They discuss the history of the Maori people, the effects of New Zealand's colonization by the British, and the importance of knowing and accepting your…
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Today's episode is serious and somber as we share that our Freedom Writer Family has lost a beloved member. Alexi Rodriguez, whom we affectionately refer to as “Lexi," tragically took her life. As a student author in our new book, DEAR FREEDOM WRITER, Lexi penned her pain in the letter "Perpetual Patient.” The loss of Lexi compelled us to create a …
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In this week's episode, Erin Gruwell speaks with 11 year old Kyan, a student author from our newest book, Dear Freedom Writer, and his parents, Dale and Manuel. To help celebrate Pride month, they discuss the inspiration for Kyan’s Dear Freedom Writer story, the righteous indignation Kyan uses to fuel his activism and how they are both allies and a…
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In this week’s episode, Erin Gruwell speaks with four of the amazing student authors of our new book, Dear Freedom Writer - Jadyn L from New York, Jayden B from Alabama, Kelly from California, and Yamon from Israel. They discuss what it feels like to be a Freedom Writer student author and how our student authors hope to spread the power of the pen.…
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In this week’s episode, Erin Gruwell speaks with five fabulous Freedom Writer Teachers - Dr. Precious Symonette, Bill Feaver, Cathy Connelly, Paul Smith, and Tammy Purrington. They discuss the struggles faced by educators across the United States, the pride they feel seeing our students succeed, and the special moments that makes their noble profes…
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In this week’s episode, Erin Gruwell speaks with Jill and Amnon Damti - world-renowned dancers, Israeli Ambassadors of Peace and Freedom Writer Teachers. They discuss Jill and Amnon’s innovative techniques for spreading peace through dance and how we can all advocate for the otherly-abled. We hope this episode will leave you feeling enlightened and…
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On this week's episode, Erin Gruwell speaks with three panels of students, parents, teachers and Freedom Writers who participated in our new book, Dear Freedom Writer. They discuss overcoming mental health emergencies, the struggles faced by first generation Americans and how to maintain a vision, even without sight. This episode is a sneak peek in…
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In this week's episode, Erin Gruwell speaks with three student authors of the new book, Dear Freedom Writer - Zoey (whom we affectionately call “Zi”), Jeremiah, and Robert. She is also joined by their parents, Freedom Writer teachers, and school administrators for a lively discussion about the book writing process, the pride of seeing their student…
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In this week's episode, Erin Gruwell speaks with Original Freedom Writers Ian, Shanita, Tye, Shanate, Maddie, Calvin, Cynthia, Latilla, Kanha and Chirece. We discuss what it feels like to pass the torch to the next generation and help shape the lives of children from around the world. This episode is a heartwarming look into our writing process for…
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In this week's episode, Erin Gruwell is joined by Georgie Smith, the founder of A Sense of Home and the 2016 top ten CNN Hero of the Year. They discuss the power of helping others and the importance of exercising the soul through giving. Georgie’s story is incredibly moving, and I hope this episode will leave you feeling enlightened and empowered t…
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On this episode, Erin Gruwell is joined by Tresor Rusesabagina, the son of humanitarian Paul Rusesabagina. Tresor updates us on his father Paul’s kidnapping in August 2020 by the Rwandan government and shares how we can help #FreeRusesabagina. Tresor’s bravery and determination are incredibly powerful, and we hope this episode will leave you feelin…
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On this episode, Erin Gruwell is joined by actor, activist, and singer/songwriter Kate Nash. They discuss how Kate uses art to connect with fans from all walks of life and how she learned to use her voice to fight for change. Kate’s stories and industry insights are incredibly powerful, and we hope this episode will leave you feeling enlightened an…
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On this episode, Erin Gruwell speaks with Candace Houle, a member of the Cree Nation and a beloved Freedom Writer Teacher. They discuss Candace’s experiences growing up as a First Nation in Canada, the historical interactions between the indigenous culture and European settlers, and the recent revelations about the mistreatment of First Nations at …
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In this week's episode, Erin Gruwell speaks with Temple Grandin, animal behaviorist and autism advocate Temple Grandin. They discuss Temple's childhood growing up on the autism spectrum and how her unique perspective as a visual learner informed her views on how to improve the educational system, and advocate for the humane treatment of animals. Le…
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In this week's episode, Erin Gruwell speaks with Diana Chao, the founder of Letters to Strangers. Letters to Strangers is a global youth-run nonprofit which seeks to destigmatize mental illness and increase access to affordable, quality treatment for youth aged 13 to 24. They discuss Diana’s experiences as a first generation immigrant struggling wi…
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On this week's episode, join Erin Gruwell for a candid conversation about healing after tragedy with the impactful LGBTQIA+ advocate and activist, Judy Shepard. Judy is the mother of Matthew Shepard, an openly gay student who was savagely tortured, tied to a fence and left to die in Laramie, Wyoming in October of 1998. In the wake of his loss, Judy…
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In this week’s podcast, Erin Gruwell speaks with writer and producer, Chris Levinson. In celebration of Father’s Day, they discuss Chris’ relationship with her father, acclaimed television writer, Richard Levinson.Richard created many popular TV shows such as “Columbo” and “Murder, She Wrote.” He wanted to share with Chris small snapshots of her li…
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In this week's episode, Erin Gruwell speaks with Scarlett Lewis, an ardent activist whose son, Jesse, was tragically killed during the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting in 2012. Scarlett talks about turning her pain into purpose, and how Jesse’s message of “nurturing, healing, love” can change the world. Scarlett’s experiences on that dreadful …
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On today's episode, Erin interviews original Freedom Writer, Kanya Hak Sims, and actress, Jackie Ngan. They discuss Jackie and Kanya’s devastating experiences with discrimination, how the coronavirus pandemic has underscored the effects of harmful Asian stereotypes, and what we all can do to stop Asian American Pacific Islander hate.…
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In this week's episode, Erin Gruwell is joined by Esther Wojcicki, a celebrated author and educator whose new project, Tract.app, is helping change the way students learn online. They discuss how the COVID-19 pandemic changed classrooms around the world and the ways in which educators can empower their students to thrive during due pressure or duri…
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On this week’s episode, Erin Gruwell interviews Congresswomen Nanette Diaz Barragán who currently represents California’s 44th congressional district. They discuss Congresswoman Barragán’s empowering journey to the United States House of Representative as a first generation American and Congresswoman Barragán’s trips to the US-Mexico border. As the…
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